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Answer to Question 4

What does James have to say about the power of prayer?

The imagery throughout James's Epistle is vivid and stark. He sometimes cajoles, sometimes threatens, but he always exhorts us to refrain from what is evil and to act in right ways. He does not dwell much on the metaphysical, but concentrates on human action...until he achieves the final passages where he waxes eloquent on the power of prayer.

Verse 13: "Is anyone among you in trouble?" He should Pray. "Is anyone happy?" He should sing praises. This is a common feature in many church services and well it should be. The power of prayer is manifest in our daily lives. James tells us that the "Prayer of a good person has a powerful effect." We must pray, but not be selfish in our prayers. We must get closer to God by communication with him. For in the final analysis this is what prayer is all about. It is not an invoice to heaven to acquire material wealth; it is not a fawning, groveling missive to a great power. It is a communication with our creator that helps us to become better human beings.

And so James sums up his letter by reminding us "Whoever turns a sinner back from his wrong way will save that sinner's soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins." Thus we strive not only to make ourselves better, but also strive to make the world a better place, one person at a time.

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